Coronavirus and your Super Kid by Ruthangela Bernadette
You can’t get away from news of the coronavirus. It’s everywhere, from television and radio to the school playground. Many parents are concerned about how to talk to their kids about the virus in a way that will be reassuring and not make kids more worried than they already are. If your spectrum children are anything like my kid, then you’ve got a bunch of little worrywarts on your hands.
Here are my 8 Tips for Tackling the Coronavirus Conversation:
1. Talk about it.
Don’t be afraid to broach the subject with your kids. Most children will have already heard about the virus or seen people wearing face masks, so parents shouldn’t avoid talking about it. Not talking about something can actually make kids worry more. Make the subject seem less ominous by talking about it whilst doing another activity such as going for a walk, or cooking.
2. Let your child lead the conversation.
Take your cues from your child. Invite your child to tell you anything they may have heard about the coronavirus, and how they feel. Give them ample opportunity to ask questions. You want to be prepared to answer any questions they might have. Your goal is to avoid encouraging frightening fantasies. If you think their train of thought is in the right ballpark and heading in a healthy direction, then go with it.
3. Our super kids are sensitive souls.
They are little empathetic sponges, so they will pick up on the minutest of details. Deal with your own anxiety. If you are worried or panicked, then your child will sense this. Leave it until you are feeling more positive before you talk to your kids about what’s happening with the coronavirus. They take on our feelings, so make sure yours are positive and upbeat.
4. Teach by example.
Take the lead by doing, rather than just saying. Your kid will feel more in control if they feel they are actively doing something to protect themselves. Involve them in the decision making process and invite their suggestions for the appropriate course of action.
5. Keep the rules simple.
Focus on what is important and forget the other stuff. Have simple, non-negotiable rules about when everyone must wash their hands:
• when they come in from playing outside
• before they eat
• after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing
• after getting them dirty, for instance by bringing the trash out, or loading the dishwasher with dirty plates
• after using the bathroom
6. 20 seconds is a mighty long time.
Everyone needs to wash their hands in soap for at least 20 seconds. Make this a fun thing to do. It takes approximately 20 seconds to sing “A Spoonful of Sugar” from Mary Poppins, or “Mamma Mia” from Mamma Mia! Print out the words to one of these songs (or a different song that your kids like) and place it beside each sink in the house, together with the visual schedule below.
A Spoonful of Sugar That…a…spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down The medicine go down The medicine go down Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down In the most delightful way!
Mamma Mia Mamma mia, here I got again My my, how can I resist ya? Mamma mia, does it show again, My my, just how much I missed ya? Yes I’ve been broken-hearted Blue since the day we parted Why why, did I ever let you go?
7. If the routine stops, make a new one
If the schools or nurseries shut as a precautionary measure and your little darlings are going to be at home all day, stick to a similar routine. Get up at the same time and have the same general morning routine. You can either go for a drive in the car or a walk to the park and back to simulate their commute to school or nursery, then back home for some home-schooling or movie watching. My child’s school have already sent all parents a home-school schedule in the event that they take the decision to close the school for a few days.
8. Watch out for signs of anxiety.
You know your superkids better than anyone else, so you will know what to look out for, be it increased meltdowns, repeated questioning, poor sleep, aggression, increased stimming. The objective here is to act quickly and nip it in the bud if you can, before it becomes a bigger problem. Ruthangela Bernadette is the author of “Special Kid to Super Kid”. She’s a supermum who launched her daughter from super-stuck to superhero, by enabling her to overcome her difficulties associated with learning disability, language delay, and autism. Her passion is to inspire and empower parents to do likewise, but that’s only her day job. Her real job is raising her eye-rolling, door slamming, make-up wearing super daughter, and of course saving the universe before dinner time. Connect with her at RuthangelaBernadette.com.